Formed in 1982 by brothers Martyn and Steven Young, Colourbox drew on influences as varied as blues, soul, rock, dub and funk, they combined elements from each with movie dialogue and weird and wonderful samples.

Vocalist Debian Curry was recruited to sing on their 1982 4AD debut "Breakdown"; Currie was replaced by Lorita Grahame in 1983.

After releasing the mini-album Colourbox in 1983, they released a couple singles and began to work on their first full album, 'Colourbox', which garnered great reviews and topped the UK independent chart in 1985.
Colourbox's idiosyncratic approach to music left journalists struggling to pin down their identity; they deliberately stayed out of the spotlight and focused on refining their sound. Two singles followed in 1986; 'The Official Colourbox World Cup Theme' and a reworking of the Augustus Pablo track, 'Baby I Love You So'.

It was in 1987 that the Young brothers broke out of the indie charts as M|A|R|R|S, with the genre-defining track, 'Pump Up The Volume'. A collaboration with A.R. Kane, Chris CJ Mackintosh and Dave Dorrell, the single went from underground club anthem to UK National No.1. 'Pump Up The Volume' marked the beginning of the sampling era.

Ian Robbins died in 2014. and Steven Young died on 13 July 2016.


MAD 315 Colourbox - Colour Box album art Colourbox Colour Box (MiniAlbum) 4AD MAD 315 UK 1983 Sell This Version
CAD 508, CAD-508, MAD-509 Colourbox - Colourbox album art Colourbox Colourbox (Album, MiniAlbum) 4AD CAD 508, CAD-508, MAD-509 Australia 1985 Sell This Version
MAD-509 Colourbox - Colourbox album art Colourbox Colourbox(LP) 4AD, Virgin MAD-509 Australia 1985 Sell This Version

Singles & EPs

BAD 215 Colourbox - Breakdown album art Colour Box* Breakdown 4AD BAD 215 UK 1982 Sell This Version
SP-12067 Colourbox - Breakdown (Second Version) album art Colourbox Breakdown (Second Version) (Single, Maxi) 4AD SP-12067 US 1983 Sell This Version
AD 406 Colourbox - Punch album art Colourbox Punch 4AD AD 406 UK 1984 Sell This Version
AD403 Colourbox - Say You album art Colourbox Say You (Single) 4AD AD403 UK 1984 Sell This Version
DRO-063 Colourbox - Shotgun album art Colour Box* Shotgun(7", Single, Promo) 4AD DRO-063 Spain 1984 Sell This Version
DJV 185 Colourbox - Arena album art Colourbox Arena (Single) 4AD DJV 185 Canada 1985 Sell This Version
BAD 507 Colourbox - The Moon Is Blue album art Colourbox The Moon Is Blue (Single) 4AD BAD 507 UK 1985 Sell This Version
BAD 604 Colourbox - Baby I Love You So album art Colourbox Featuring Lorita Grahame Colourbox Featuring Lorita Grahame - Baby I Love You So (Maxi, Single) 4AD BAD 604 UK 1986 Sell This Version
608 247-213, 608 247 Colourbox - The Official Colourbox World Cup Theme album art Colourbox The Official Colourbox World Cup Theme (Single) 4AD 608 247-213, 608 247 Europe 1986 Sell This Version
CBOX 1 Colourbox - Pump Up The Volume / Looks Like We're Shy One Horse album art M|A|R|R|S / Colourbox M|A|R|R|S / Colourbox - Pump Up The Volume / Looks Like We're Shy One Horse(12", Promo) 4AD CBOX 1 UK 2001 Sell This Version


834 221-4 Colourbox - Colourbox album art Colourbox Colourbox (Comp) 4AD 834 221-4 Canada 1986 Sell This Version
SOVE 2376 Colourbox - You Keep Me Hanging On album art Colourbox You Keep Me Hanging On(2x12", EP, Comp) Vertigo SOVE 2376 Canada 1986 Sell This Version
none Colourbox - Best Of 82/87 album art Colourbox Best Of 82/87 (Comp) 4AD none UK 2001 Sell This Version
CAD 3204 CD Colourbox - Colourbox album art Colourbox Colourbox (Comp) 4AD CAD 3204 CD UK 2012 Sell This Version
TAD 3443 Colourbox - Music Of The Band (1982-1987) album art Colourbox Music Of The Band (1982-1987) (Comp) 4AD TAD 3443 UK 2014 Sell This Version
EAD 3214A Colourbox - Colourbox/12" Singles album art Colourbox Colourbox/12" Singles(17xFile, FLAC, Comp, RM) 4AD EAD 3214A UK 2020

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June 1, 2020

Whilst driving one night; Greg: "What's this playing? I've never heard anything like it before." Greg going wild in the back seat to COLOURBOX. Loud. Perfect music for any mood. I took Colourbox for granted as quite a few bands 4AD were releasing in the early eighties made you think WOW, this is perfect, many new types of music . . . But what Greg said made me think of Colourbox from an outsider’s perspective. He was right, Colourbox is mind-blowing stuff, impeccably produced.

Colourbox is a difficult group to describe, they touched so many genres and were at the front of some new ones (cutting, sampling . . .). Sometimes, they improved on what they were referencing, like the Philip Glass track. And I have no idea why the official world cup theme wasn’t used formally for football.

Both 'albums' (the first is really an EP, though a bit longer than most) are just labelled Colourbox. I like the more experimental first EP, as it was a great teaser for the music to come - experimental noises, changing tempos and abrupt changes in beat really made you pay attention. The EP is a bit like an orchestra tuning up at the beginning of a concert – a prelude, therefore, for the up-coming long playing album (be sure to get the free extra disc with it).

The Say You 12" is a beautiful song. There are wonderful covers of classis like Baby I Love You so, Keep Me Hanging on. But then the Youngs could also write their own instant classics such as Arena and The Moon Is Blue. Then when you had enough of that sound it would change to the speedy Just Give ‘Em Whiskey, Hot Doggie . . . with bits of popular culture references taken from all sorts of places to add to the fun (Escape from New York, Joan Collins . . . ).

The odd thing about Colourbox is how their music was released in a mixture of album and ‘single’ formats (Eps). Although there is only one proper long playing album, there are quite a few 12” releases, all of which are important additional pieces to the Colourbox collection. At that time, a lot of 4AD 12” EPs were independent / separate pieces from the albums (this policy changed with the advent of the American groups, Throwing Muses, Pixies etc . . .). The result is there is a lot to collect. If you don’t have all the Colourbox vinyl, the CD box set (CAD 3204 CD) is a good reference. This set should also have been made available on vinyl, but probably because of the way Colourbox sporadically released their music in smaller formats, it’d be expensive to produce a proper vinyl box set worthy of Colourbox’s fine work.

[There is also, the museum collection, TADD 3443.]


May 7, 2019
Ahead of their time, one of a handful of groups that defined the sound of my youth. R.I.P Steven

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